A large and fine antique silver bottle ticket with deep relief grape vine decoration. Across the centre there is a banner with the pierced title “MADEIRA”. Weight 64 grams, 2 troy ounces. Height 7.5 cm. Width 8 cm. London 1808. Maker Benjamin Smith. Makes a pair with #9331
Biography – Benjamin Smith, 1764. Married Mary Adams 1788. No record of apprenticeship. Recommended to Matthew Boulton of Birminbham in 1790 as ‘an Ingeneous Chaser.’ By September 1792 the firm of Boulton and Smith, latchet manufacturers was in existence, (both Benjamin Smith and James Smith). In March 1794 they were joined by John Lander, jeweller, who had invented an ‘Elastic Shoe Latchet’, when Benjamin and James are button makers. In 1801 Benjamin went to London and a new partnership was drawn up between Boulton and James in 1802. Benjamin married Mary Shiers at Greenwich Church, London in 1802, by which time he was presumably setting up the workshop there. First mark, in partnership with Digby Scott 1802, 2nd mark 1803, the partnership apparently dissolved by 1807, when Smith entered a 3rd mark alone. 4th mark 1807. 5th mark in partnership with his brother James 1809. 6th mark alone 1812. 7th mark 1814. 8th mark in partnership with his son Benjamin 1816. 9th mark alone again 1818. By his first marriage Smith had four sons, of whom Benjamin was the eldest and three daughters, and by Mary Shiers a fourth daughter in 1803 at Greenwich. His third son Digby, born 2 June 1797, may be assumed to be the godson of Digby Scott. Benjamin Smith appears to have been of a difficult and probably irascible nature which would account for the variations in his entry of marks with and without partners. His firm was of course, together with Storr, manufacturing almost entirely for Rundell and Bridge, and it seems that the later may have supported Smith’s move to London. The firm’s most important production is probably The Jamaica Service of 1803 in The Royal Collection. The silver-gilt trays, baskets, and wine coasters with open-work vine borders are among the most distinctive and accomplished achievements. The designs, so closely related to those of Storr, most almost certainly stemmed from central control by Rundell and Bridge.